Bernita N. Sorensen Rusk died Jan. 1, 2013, at the age of 95 at Amethyst Gardens Retirement Community in Peoria, Ariz.¬†She was born in rural Ruthven, Iowa.¬†She was baptized and attended Sunday School and¬† church with her family at the South Walnut Lutheran Church, rural Graettinger, Iowa. She earned her high school diploma as an adult.¬†She went on to take several college classes.
She married her husband, Bless R. Rusk, when he was in the Air Force in WWII.¬†They were married 68 years, until his death at age 94 in 2011.¬†They were members of the American Lutheran Church of Sun City, Ariz.
She was a homemaker for a number of years raising their two children. Then she was co-owner and bookkeeper with her spouse in the family business of Rusk Drug and Jewelry in Algona, Iowa for 20 plus years until their retirement to the Gulf Coast.¬†While living in Ocean Springs, Miss., she was head of a campaign to eliminate litter and received an award from the mayor for her efforts.
At the age of 70, she became the literacy coordinator for the Jackson County Literacy Council, in Vancleave, Miss., where she trained volunteers and matched them with adults who needed tutoring to learn to read and write.¬†She had been a Laubaugh Volunteer Tutor for 20 years herself through the Lutheran Church program. She was also active in the Ocean Springs Garden Club and Lutheran Church Women.¬†The couple moved to an acreage in rural Van Cleave, Miss., where they enjoyed gardening and were active in their church and community.
In 1994, they relocated to Conroy, Iowa, to be closer to family. In 1996, they moved to Chanute, where they lived until 2007, when they moved to the Phoenix area.
She is survived by one son, Gary Rusk, Surprise, Ariz., and one daughter, Cheryl Mintle Orr, Surprise, Ariz.; one sister, Arlene Tyler, Maxwell, Iowa, and three sisters-in-law, Elizabeth Wells, Seminole, Fla.; Rita Stevens, Baton Rouge, La.; and Mary and Jack Tardy, Colorado Springs, Colo.; six grandchildren; five great-grandchildren and 40 nieces and nephews, their children and grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her spouse, Bless R. Rusk, her parents, Knud and Thora Sorensen, sisters, Florence Nichtern, and Margaret Thim, and one brother, Harvey Sorensen.
Funeral service will be Monday, Jan. 7 with visitation at 8:30 a.m. and service at 9 a.m. at Sunland Memorial Park, Sun City, Ariz. Memorials may be made to the American Lutheran Church, 17220 N. Del Webb Blvd, Sun City, AZ 85373, and to the Highway Christian Hospice 67 E. Weldon Ave, Ste 317, Phoenix, AZ 85012. Messages to the family may be left online on the Sunland website at www.dignitymemorial.com/sunland-memorial-park-mortuary.
Burial will be in the National Memorial Cemetery, Phoenix, Ariz.